A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Entertains through the thrill of exploration, discovery, and crafting. Sometimes seems to suggest that the universe and its creatures exist solely for our exploitation.
Positive Role Models
The player's character is an explorer. His goal is whatever the player chooses it to be: discovering worlds, documenting plants and animals, uncovering and building new technologies, or learning alien languages. But the player can also choose to take on a more aggressive role, attacking peaceful alien creatures to harvest their resources or even just for fun.
Ease of Play
Simple, accessible controls for movement and combat should prove familiar to most players, but the complexities of various systems -- including inventory and crafting -- could take a lot longer for many players to fully understand.
Violence & Scariness
Players use sci-fi guns and melee attacks against robotic drones and a mix of tame and aggressive alien wildlife. Battles take place from both a first- and third-person perspective and include explosions and bursts of light, but no blood or gore.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that No Man's Sky is a first- and third-person sci-fi simulation game where players explore a virtually endless universe filled with massive planets, alien life, and technological secrets. The bulk of the game is composed of exploring, discovering, and using resources to craft new items and technologies. Players spend much of their time searching for rare minerals, which can come from crates, plants, rocks, and even animals, perhaps sending the message that the universe and all within it exists for us to exploit as we like. Players can also engage in battle with aliens and machines -- including those that pose no threat, should they choose (though most creatures will fight back if attacked, and many are much more powerful than the player's character). The gun-based combat involves explosions and bursts of light, but no blood or gore.
Is It Any Good?
Few games made by only a handful of people are more ambitious than this space adventure. No Man's Sky provides us with a randomly generated universe nearly as big as the one we physically inhabit, making the possibilities for discovery virtually endless. The unexpected things you'll find and the places you'll see in the opening hours hint at the vast, essentially infinite scope of the experience. And this huge game has continued to evolve during the first couple of years after launch with free content and feature updates, such as the ability to view your (newly customizable) astronauts from a third-person perspective and find other players with whom to go on shared adventures. Better still is the ability to build colonies and bases anywhere you like and create and command fleets of freighters. These additions provide a bit of much-needed automation while also making it easier to transport resources and travel to previously visited locations. The story has continued to grow as well, with new quests and a dynamic story that provides a deeper understanding of the universe we explore. You can spend dozens of hours chasing down answers to ancient mysteries, or you can spend just as much time simply trying to get lost in the cosmos to see what you can find and what sort of amazing items you can craft. It's all up to you.
But there are a few chinks in No Man's Sky's armor of freedom. Perhaps the most frustrating thing players will encounter at the start is the small and restrictive inventory. You'll find all sorts of elements and items you'll want to collect, but within the first hour, you'll likely need to start prioritizing which ones to keep and which to leave behind as empty slots fill up. Also tiresome is the need to spend time searching for and harvesting basic elements and resources. Standing in one spot vacuuming up copper or iron for a long time -- hoping that sentinel robots don't spot you and begin attacking -- gets old within the first few hours of play. By hour 20 or 30, you'll be wishing desperately that you could craft a Star Trek replicator that could just spit out whatever you happened to need at the moment. Even with these problems, though, No Man's Sky is well worth playing simply to experience what it's like to explore a nearly endless galaxy full of wonders.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.